India Mahdavi at sketch

Designer Interview

with India Mahdavi, Designer of The Gallery at sketch


Renowned architect and interior designer, India Mahdavi, opened her own studio in 1999 and since then has worked on projects the world over. Since then, India has really made a name for herself in the industry and, in 2014, was named on the Architectural Digest’s Top 100 list of the world’s best interior designers and architects.

The interior designer for sketch’s ‘The Gallery’; we caught up with India to find out just how she managed to execute such a demanding design.

How did you come up with the design for sketch?

When I initially visited the Gallery with Mourad Mazouz, my first instinct was not only to create a strong contrast to Martin Creed’s installation and to the sketch as a whole, but I also wanted a playful proposal for David Shrigley’s work.

Somehow, the idea of pink imposed itself; it was so obvious to me. The feminine pink could be treated in a radical modern way. Pink would bring femininity; pink, pink, pink. Pink would be modern. Pink was the answer.

sketch the gallery

What was the inspiration behind your design?

I have always been attracted by the film industry thus the cinematographic feel in some of my projects. I wanted to give the gallery a strangeness that one might feel in the scene of the ballroom in The Shining (Stanley Kubrick) or in some of David Lynch’s movies…It is very Hollywood in a way!

Did you have a theme or get given guidance on what to create? Or were you given free roam?

Mourad wanted a modern brasserie, and of course, I had to work around David Shrigley’s requirements: drawings on all walls, white table tops for the tableware he had designed specially.

The main constraint, which was also part of the strength of the project, was the time frame: we had four months to design, build and deliver. Installation happened in one week. Short and efficient. I think that the time constraint obliged to get to the point in the most radical way.

the glade at sketch

Did you work in conjunction with David Shrigley or did you both work completely separate to each other?

We communicated mostly on the position of his drawings, height etc. When I suggested the whole room would be pink, walls & furniture etc. he agreed immediately, but then we worked separately after.
I think we were both happily surprised with the result. The combination turned out to work so perfectly.

sketch is such a unique idea; combining dining with art. Do you believe it’s important to provide a sensory experience nowadays as opposed to a traditional dining setting?

Mourad was one of the very first restaurateur’s to come up with this concept of creating a restaurant/installation and allowing an artist to take over.

Going out to a restaurant is a moment of comfort, of warmth, of exchange, of sensuality, of socialising, so any sensory experiences should allow space for the above.

style award winner sketch

With each room being highly unique and individual, do you think it’s important to create a strong sense of identity within restaurant design?

I think it is important that the restaurant works as a whole and as individual rooms at the same time.

It’s equally important. This is difficult to achieve, especially when you ask different designers or artists to collaborate. It’s all about rhythm and balance… And that’s why the pink room works so well at sketch; it is strong enough to hold the other rooms together.

There’s a real sense that restaurants have become about much more than just the food. How important do you think design has become in restaurant design? Or in fact, any hospitality venue design?

There is no rule; we all love the classic bistros, good food/no design; I personally don’t like over-designed restaurants. It is really quite difficult to create new classics where the atmosphere is equally important to the product… The most important thing is that the result is authentic.


To find out more about India Mahdavi, please visit her website here. The Style Awards are back and will be open again soon so keep your eyes peeled.